As a global population, we may be in the sick bay, but take solace that the best brands’ play book is still fighting fit. With 77% of consumers wanting brands to help and three-quarters expecting brands to tell us what they’re doing in response to COVID-19, here are five ways to help brands survive –  and then thrive – when the recovery inevitably comes.

1. Be your best self

Purposeful acts of support are both needed and rewarded. With almost two-thirds saying how a brand behaves now will impact future purchase intent, we’re looking for brands to live up to their promise, in authentic and surprising ways. LVMH’s great perfume-to-protection pivot and Mercedes moving to build breathing aids, fulfils fundamental safety needs. Yet Nike’s removal of its paywall to help everybody #playinside and audible’s free audio books for children, reminds us that our belonging and creative needs are equally in need of some TLC. Think about how your brand purpose intersects with an untapped human need and start helping.

2. Solve don’t sell

Now is no time for hyperbole. With experts being interviewed from their bedrooms, tone of voice has become humble and human. Both McDonalds and Coca-Cola faced criticism for being on the wrong side of slick and swagger with their brand-first social distancing comms. Criticised for virtue-signalling, the tone overshadowed their otherwise under-the-radar endeavours. If you’re going to do something, think first of solving and challenge whether communication is needed or is appropriate.

3. Cast a critical eye

Use this time to undertake a rigorous creative review. Check your tone of voice and assess scheduled creative through a COVID-19 lens. Will it still have the desired effect? Is it in tune with the national mood? Do the ideas or imagery date you or make you seem out of touch in this new climate? Tea brand PG Tips was quick to announce it was parking its campaign calling on Britons to ‘pop around for a cuppa with your neighbour’. But this weekend, the ads were still airing on Channel 4 and while seemingly small, the tea was spilled.

4. Build for the bounce

Despite predicted dips in both ad revenue and GDP and many brands having to shelve planned launches, don’t drop off the radar. With data showing that brands which invest in equity make a stronger recovery than weaker brands, never has communication that is targeted, advocacy-led and business-building been more important. Review your communications mix and challenge whether it’s working as hard for you as it could be and change the channels if and where necessary.

5. Partner and pivot

Our industry is vibrant, can-do and impassioned. But COVID-19 has reaped equal turmoil for brands big and small. Take advantage of the unscheduled time for self-care and self-improvement. There’s a wealth of open-sourced webinars, white papers and authority sources where leaders freely share their perspectives on our new reality. Take advantage of the hours you get back from commuting and invest in some inspiration. This adversity could present just the opportunity that your brand needs to ensure its long-term health.


About the author

Louise Watson is a creative strategist with 25 years consumer and corporate brand-building experience advising global brands to act differently.


Louise is one of our Collective Members



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